Saturday, September 23

Missing certain landmarks


Photo shows the Nyabau interchange of the Pan Borneo Highway.

WITHIN five hours you will be there!

Where on earth is this place?

I’m referring to Sibu. The journey from Kuching to Sibu to Kuching by road can be done within five hours, including brief stops at Lachau or Jakar.

I did this journey on Friday, Jan 27, 2023 and two days later.

To an ordinary user of the road, the journey is routine and not such a big deal; to me, however, the trip had some historical significance of its own.

For in 1984, I declared open a branch of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) at Lichok.

Incidentally, this was the first branch of the association established outside Kuching. It was headed by a teacher, Mr Nyanau.


Here is the point. On the way to Sibu or on the way back, I had promised to stop at Lichok in order to take pictures of the buildings there, looking in particular for the shophouse and the longhouse in which my hosts had kindly provided for me to rest for the night.

With me was Boniface Jarau from Radio Sarawak, sent by the station to cover the ceremony connected with the opening of the branch. If the hand phone had been invented then, the photos of the elaborate proceedings would have gone viral. As it was, the news was broadcast by Radio Sarawak only.

Where is Lichok in relation to the Borneo Highway? The Berayang School? Yes, I could see roofing (red) from the highway; that was all I noticed.

The Pan Borneo trunk road has transformed the landscape. Landmarks in existence 40 years ago are no longer there – meaning not visible from the trunk road.

Along the old road, those longhouses built on the same level as the road are now several feet below it.


Throughout the 1974-1976 period, I used to go to Lubok Antu to visit the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra)’s project at Merindun. I would stop at Jelukong, having a rest or refreshment there. The road from there towards the project site was rough, rocky and at certain spots, muddy and slippery.

From the present trunk road, there is no signage to tell you how to get there.

There is a building. Could that be the coffee shop?

Skrang Resettlement Scheme

Then where is Skrang Scheme – the settlement intended for people from Ulu Ai or Delok to avoid being harassed by the Indonesian soldiers from across the border. On my way to the other rubber schemes after Melugu, it was necessary for me as the Secretary of the Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) to stop at the Skrang Scheme to discuss and solve problems encountered by the staff, and to talk to the community leaders among them were my friends.

Sadly, I was told most of them had gone to join their ‘Maker’.

From Kuching, you do not see the majestic ‘Tapang’ tree by the side of the old road a couple of hundred metres from Serian.

You do not stop at the Serian Bazaar now unless you have something special to do: meet someone important, or buy something that is not available in Kuching or at Lachau Bazaar.

‘The Rude Bird at Sungai Tengang’

This was a very important bazaar. Before Lachau became a thriving trading centre, travellers to and from the South would normally stop at Sungai Tengang for rest or food. It was the end of the ‘good’ road from Kuching where the construction unit of the Public Works Department was sited.

There were a few shops. One of the shopkeepers had a pet bird known to the locals as ‘burong tiong’. It could imitate human language!

Yes, one day, I passed by its cage to answer the call of nature when I heard the bird say in Chinese a rude term (not printable)!

New market at Lachau

On the way back from Sibu, my delegation of three stopped at the Lachau Bazaar, looking for some fish products. We were told to get them at the new market. Here, if you look for a toilet you will end up peeing on the road side, by the side of the rubbish dump.

Do not look at the patch of jungle. Rubbish disposal is not in the dictionary of the Council (assuming this locality is under their jurisdiction of some local government).

This is one spot at Lachau which I don’t miss.

The million-ringgit flag post

Over the weekend, while Kuchingites were talking about the RM30-million flag pole proposed for construction on a site somewhere ‘across the river in Kuching’, at Sibu, we were talking about reserving dinner tables in restaurants – they were fully booked by families for post-Chinese New Year celebrations.

News about the controversy of the flag pole was relayed to me via words of mouth. My instant reaction was that the millions could be better used for the construction of new roads, or improvement to the spur roads off the Pan Borneo Highway to reach the various human settlements along the highway.

Where are the express boats?

Photo shows the vessels berthed at Sibu Express Boat Terminal. — Photo by Peter Boon

In the early 2001, I used to go to Kapit via Sibu and always took the first trip of the day by an express boat so as to be in Kapit town around midday for lunch.

I miss all those fast boats!

People use the road to Kapit. How nice!